Gun buffs push 'Open Carry' agenda

Whatever those framers of the Constitution meant, their second amendment writing seems to have kept us all up in arms, so to speak, since about 1791. The latest battleground has gun buffs lining up in California to take aim at AB1934, a bill now pending in the state legislature which would make it illegal to carry an unloaded gun in plain view.

On one side are the “Open Carry” folks. They have taken offense at the fact that everyone who applies for a permit to carry a concealed weapon is not immediately granted that permit, even if he or she is a law-abiding citizen. You want to pack heat? The Open Carry folks think nothing should stop you. And since it is quite legal to carry an unloaded gun anywhere, any way you want, they have taken to strolling around with pistols tucked in their belts in protest. AB 1934 would interfere with this pleasant activity.

The bill’s author, Assemblywoman Lori Saldaña, D-San Diego, is quoted as saying, “What I’m concerned about is people, who have no training, can carry a gun for no other purpose than to make a public statement.”

Ah, but according to Sam Paredes, Executive Director of Gun Owners of California, carrying an unloaded gun is just no problem at all.

Making public statements is an American activity. The “open carry movement” is driven by the inequities and unfair withholding of concealed-carry weapon permits.

The intimidation that the lawmaker, or others, may feel is no reason to make another law. Imagined fears are not justification for punishing laws that threaten innocent citizens. “Fears” were addressed by the U.S. Supreme Court in the 1960s when the court ruled that people’s “fears” were not justification to deny civil and constitutional rights.

Once California becomes a “shall issue” state, and all those who apply who are capable and law abiding are permitted to carry concealed weapons, the concern over empty guns carried in open view will fade.

Does this make sense? Perhaps as much as Paredes’ argument that since: “(w)e all know that the police cannot be on the spot immediately with every crime,” so let’s just let everyone pack a gun and be ready to take matters into his own hand.

Emeryville (CA) Police Chief Ken James is not so sure that’s a good idea.

Law enforcement officers are taught that guns are a dangerous and deadly threat to their safety and the safety of the public they serve. They understand that any encounter involving a gun is grave.

“Open carry,” the practice of carrying an unloaded handgun exposed in a belt holster, unnecessarily subjects our officers and the public to tense encounters that have unforeseeable consequences. The police officer who approaches an “open carry” subject must rapidly assess the subject’s behavior without knowing if the individual has a permit to carry a gun or a gun license. The officer knows only that he or she must detain the subject only long enough to determine whether the gun is unloaded.

An officer has more authority to check on whether a driver is legally driving a car than to stop an individual to verify if the individual has the right to carry a gun.

The officer doesn’t know if the individual is a law-abiding citizen or an individual prohibited from owning or carrying a gun. The officer does know that an unloaded weapon can become a loaded weapon in less than 1.3 seconds.

Paredes and James will face off in the company of University of California, Berkeley law professor Franklin E. Zimring next week, on a panel moderated by San Francisco Chronicle editorial page editor John Diaz at the Commonwealth Club of California, a local public affairs organization with national reach.

In the meantime, there seem to be people carrying guns — hey, it’s legal, probably — in public places, and the public hopes they’re not loaded.


  1. California is one of the most restrictive states on guns. The open carry movement is more of a statement on fairness of law abiding citizens’ rights. The sheriffs in California do not issue concealed permits in a fair manner. If concealed permits were issued fairly then this movement wouldn’t be so visible.

    The right to bear arms is a constitutional right with equal weight as the right to speech, religion, and so forth. When Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Civil Rights Walk of Fame” transpired, the African “Americans” and others that participated were balked at for such a display in public. Now these American’s are heroes because they stood up for their rights. The open carry movement is the same dispute, without the race card, for rights that are suppressed in fairness and misjudgment (unfair concealed permit issue.) I guarantee you that the overwhelming majority of open carry folks would rather have the right to carry concealed. Furthermore, I can guarantee you that criminals (NON LAW ABIDING CITIZENS) don’t follow any law dealing with the right to carry and would not do so.

  2. The one most important thing to remember is that our rights exist outside of your “feelings” about them. I honestly don’t care if my carrying a gun frightens you. It is my right as an individual to arm myself in any manner I see fit. It is also our own responsibility to defend ourselves. When we surrender that responsibility to others it leads to the chaos we have in society. Heinlein said it best when he said, “An armed society is a polite society”. I know plenty of “frail old ladies” that are pretty good shots, (all it takes is a little training) and don’t have to live in fear. Your hatred of weapons is a form of self-loathing that says you aren’t worthy of defending yourself against aggression. A couple of pounds of metal (a gun) can equalize a 90 pound 80 yr old female with a 200 lb 20 something man intent on doing her harm. The gun will not, however, leap out of the holster on it’s own and accost someone.

    1. Funny then that the US has one of the highest rates of gun homicide in the world. So much for armed society being so polite! Don’t self-defense instructors say to pull your gun only if you intend to actually follow through in using it? Seems like if you have to live in that much fear of society, you’re either blatantly paranoid or really just compensating for… something.

  3. A frail old lady especially should have means to protect self when out and about. Government has failed miserably to provide community where a person can walk around without fear of being robbed or killed and in consideration of God Given Rights, has NO authority infringing upon any persons’ ability to defend themselves.

    California needs to honor our Bill of Rights and do as Vermont does. Carry whatever gun you want, open or concealed, without requirement to secure some ridiculous permit or indulge some other bureaucratic lunacy.

    It’s insanity to legislate that only criminals and criminals with badges may carry firearms.

    1. I don’t know, Pussycat. If this not-so-frail old lady carried a gun a lot of people would be more endangered than I. Maybe Britain has a good idea about billy clubs instead. I wish we could have a less emotional dialog about it all.

  4. You know what’s better than owning a gun? Owning an electric guitar. People should open carry those, with those little mini amps you can clip on your belt. Imagine if you get in a confrontation with someone while out and about, you settle it with an impromptu guitar battle! Yeaahhhh!

    Seriously, though. People should consider that.

    1. Sam, I like your thought process. Could an acoustic guitar do just as well? Maybe I’ll share this solution at next week’s Open Carry panel, and see what the Gun Guys think about it.

      1. An acoustic would lend a special touch of class, but for sheer sonic stopping power, you need an electric shredding monster guitar!

        I’d love to see you present that to a bunch of gun guys hahaha.

      2. Well, I think I’ll add it to the question cards in the Q&A session, though I have some doubts as to whether the moderator will choose it. I’ll let you know.

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